Thursday, September 27, 2012

What are you doing the rest of your life?

A year?
A decade?
A few decades?
A newly transplanted plant enjoys the new soil- 
its roots go deeper and deeper
every time it's transplanted, every time it's traumatized by a change in the weather. 
Every time. 
Or,it shrivels up and dies.
It's the order of things. 
Live fully or die.

You can get up and make yourself a quick meal right now, thanks to your ancestors who invented the refrigerator, a way to shelter you from storms, and a way to grow food right outside that shelter so you'd never go hungry. (And innumerable variations on storing, transporting, modifying food sources and food consumption.)
You have had millions of others think ahead for your comfort and joy today.
Are you thinking ahead for those others who'll come after you, for their comfort and joy?

What are you doing today?

Thursday, September 20, 2012


My book club is discussing Marilynne Robinson's Home. We, the eight of us, seven women and an occasional man take turns choosing a book and hosting the discussions, followed by snacks/food that relate to the book's themes, locale.

This is not an easy book to read. One of our members excused herself.
I had a tough time making it through a chapter without sobbing inconsolably.
Most of us already have exchanged quick reviews, phrases like "This book talks about my family!"; or, "This is the heaviest thing I read this year!"

I've chosen this book. And I'm hosting the discussion at my house, in the sun room, with a view of the new garden spaces. The pear tree will attract many to go down to the orchard and pick a bucket or two. Peas and beans and broccoli and cucumbers and zucchini and fava and lettuces and even strawberries will be picked clean by this afternoon. I wanted all this to happen at this time, a sort of emotional landmark for me, and for everyone to know that I survived this year and things are growing and producing, that tough things happen to all of us, (including to the characters in the book), and that we go on, and plant gardens, and cook, and visit with each other.

I'm preparing chicken and dumplings, hoping my dumplings turn out better than the dumplings cooked by the protagonist. For dessert, apple pie and pear cake, both from fruit in my orchard, mimicking how the protagonist constructed her pies.

We'll talk for a couple of hours; we'll choose the next book; we'll exchange tid-bits about the goings on in each others' lives. For a couple of hours my home will house a community of like-spirits, all sharing words written by a stranger, about strangers, from a time and a place most of us might find similar to our childhood, and for those hours we will piece together what it is to feel at home, for the protagonists, and for ourselves.

Home is an important book; it will engage you deeply.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Starting in the middle.

Oh, to know the center
the middle 
of things
an intimate knowledge of beginnings
without the fear of that other way-far-off-stage
waiting for
a piece of mail
a check
a visit from a loved one.

are unfilled pods
unripe fruit
a hint of a true self.

Only endings offer completeness.

Oh, how much more useful
it might be to know
the ending
that molting
we fear to become.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

An elusive wish.

We stood in line
to be selected for the play
five- year- old, confident, eager
knowing all the lines
by heart.

We need a blonde ingenue, the director stated
to parents and children waiting to be called up on stage,
a sweet, innocent, most beautiful and fair
ingenue whom everyone will love
and admire.
If you are blonde, come up front.

We looked around, and all of us with dark
hair and dark complexions
marched out without an audition.

I'm o.k, I said,
squeezing Mother's hand.

And for the next forty years, I kept looking for
that magic product that would help me look like that
blonde ingenue, that sweet, innocent, most beautiful
and fair.

Wanting to be  chosen stays with you forever.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Last wishes.

Old driftwood, biding its time
till next resurrection
a staircase for an old maid
a puppet for a child.

It's posed for an intervention
nourished daily with each lapping wave
each trembling quake
hoping a wayward tide
would dislodge it from this cemetery.

Hope rarely moves a mountain.
Only the destructive force of a hurricane
or an earthquake insures mountains
and driftwood get their last wishes.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Some people do it better.

Here I am eating mussels in wine broth at Redfish Restaurant in Port Orford, a dish I would normally prepare and eat at home.

I have prepared many steamed mussels and clams dishes, Our Christmas Vigil meal always included a chioppino or steamed clams. How is it then that I gladly leave the comforts of home, and come here to enjoy a simple meal like this?


I do not know great suppliers, fishermen or distributors of seafood products who'd drop everything and bring me what I need, when I need it, as often as I need it. A restaurant has those connections, or better have them. A restaurant scouts up and down the food chain for just that ability to get a good product to prepare on their premises. If they can't get it, they don't serve it!

I would have to get a seafood harvesting license, don my waterproof boots, identify areas in my vicinity where mussels are safe to harvest, and spend a cold morning by rocky shores trying to pull and cut enough mussels to feed me. The license is the only easy step in this transaction.

I notice that Redfish has special salt flakes on its unsalted butter! What are those red flakes, I ask.  They inform me I'm tasting Hawaiian salt. What a delightful change on the palate, for sure, I admit. Now that's better than any butter I ever tasted. Oh, it is ordinary until the flakes are added.

So, I try to improve my cooking skills by searching and acquiring great products as the professionals have done, and accept that they will do a better job providing me with memorable meals when I'm not able to do so. Yes, some people can do things better than I can. And they are worth every penny they charge. Plus tips!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Literature on the streets.

Tiles on the street at the bus stop in front of the Ferry Building, San Francisco.
How wonderful is that?